Overuse of antibiotics not only won't help a patient with a viral infection get better, it will contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, experts have noted.
"Antibiotic resistance is rising dramatically, and there is no question about that," Baugh said.
For this study, 240 adults with sinus infections were randomized to one of four treatment groups: 500 milligrams of the antibiotic amoxicillin three times a day for seven days plus 200 micrograms of the nasal steroid budesonide once a day for 10 days; a placebo in place of the antibiotic plus budesonide; amoxicillin plus a placebo in place of budesonide; or two placebos.
In the amoxicillin group, 29 percent of patients had symptoms lasting at least 10 days, and 33.6 percent of those not receiving amoxicillin had the same symptom length of time.
In both the budesonide and no-budesonide groups, exactly 31.4 percent of patients had symptoms lasting at least 10 days.
The nasal steroids seemed to be more effective in individuals who had less severe symptoms.
As the editorial pointed out, most patients with acute sinusitis will get better on their own. Unfortunately, there's no good way to determine who has viral sinusitis and who has bacterial sinusitis.
"It's difficult to make a distinction in a primary-care setting," Baugh said.
If the symptoms are worse, treatment might be warranted, he added. "But for the bulk, I would assume it would be more of a wait-and-see approach. The bugs are winning," he said.
While researchers investigate possible new treatments, sinus infections sufferers might look to analgesics or brief use of steam inhalations, Williamson said.
Dr. William Morris, chairman and director of the department of osteopathic manipulative medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City, recommends an alternati
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